An explanation: Art connects me most deeply with my essential nature
I have always been an artist in one form or another, and it bleeds into activities that might not generally be considered art. In terms of visual art, I have had a strong connection to ceramics since I was an adolescent, going through periods of creative intensity that last years--which have made me appreciate that creative expression is an essential aspect of health! Also, many members of my family are professional musicians (mostly pianists; my mother is a flutist), so sometimes I think working sensitively with my hands is in my blood.
At the time I started creating pieces using the low-fire techniques you see here (representative of my most recent work, around when I was starting to get really into yoga philosophy and open up as a person), I did not know that I was engaging in a yin practice! I do remember thinking that I did not want to worry about making my work do anything, but rather be beautiful and harmonious. I took that idea as far as I could, drawing out the many stages of the creation process of each piece in what seemed to be a decadent disregard for time. During the process of creation, I decided I wanted to pay attention to every detail until it felt right (balanced and harmonious) and release myself from the idea of needing to be productive. I also wanted to explore beautiful shapes that had no practical utility. And finally, though I spent so much time attending to and refining my graceful shapes, I combined these with unpredictable firing methods in which the surface patterns would be out of my control and, because they are low-fire techniques, the resulting work would be fragile (not vitrified) and might even be destroyed in the firing process! Fortunately, that has rarely happened. As a result, the pieces you see here and in the gallery are totally nonfunctional and impractical. Unless beauty and harmony are practical!
More about the techniques
This pottery is made using low-temperature firing techniques: either horsehair or barrel-fire. Both of these processes have interesting histories--horsehair has its roots in the Native American southwest, and barrel firing is a variant of pit firing, which is the oldest way to fire pottery. I find these styles appealing because of their simplicity. The work is not glazed; instead, it is burnished (rubbed with a smooth stone), which produces the glassy surface.
I throw these pieces on the wheel, trim them carefully, and burnish them before firing them to a low temperature in an electric kiln. Then, for the horsehair technique, the pieces are heated up again to an even lower temperature (1000 F), taken out of the kiln while hot, and hair, feathers, or other substances are applied. You must work quickly, although it's not really work! In barrel firing, the pieces are packed into a metal barrel with combustibles and oxides, and all are set on fire. In either case, once everything has cooled down, the pieces are washed and waxed. Both techniques produce one-of-a-kind, atmospheric surfaces with serendipitous effects.